New wings: Air Mauritius to renew fleet with latest Airbus A350-900 aircraft
Incidentally, Airbus suffered a major setback last month after it emerged that fast-growing Gulf carrier Emirates Airline had cancelled a $16bn order for 70 of its new A350 passenger jets. (Image: Airbus)
Air Mauritius is flying high with a fleet renewal plan up next, under which the island economy’s national carrier announced its decision to replace its existing fleet of A340-300s with six new generation Airbus A350-900 aircraft.
The airlines has recently been upgraded to a 4-star rating by Skytrax in view of the success of its 7-Step recovery and sustainability plan.
Last evening, at the Farnborough International Airshow in England, Air Mauritius announced its decision to re-fleet, which is Step 5 of the 7-Step Recovery and Sustainability plan.
Incidentally, Airbus suffered a major setback last month after it emerged that fast-growing Gulf carrier Emirates Airline had cancelled a $16bn order for 70 of its new A350 passenger jets.
Dubai-based Emirates was to be one of the launch customers for the long-range A350, which is due to enter service at the end of the year to compete with Boeing’s Dreamliner and 777 aircraft.
According to John Leahy, Airbus, Chief Operating Officer (customers), Emirates’ decision to opt out of the A350 is not an outright rejection, but it is a major drawback nevertheless.
“The problem with the A350 is not lack of orders, but the lack of production slots,” he noted.
However, this can be expected to translate into delayed delivery, unless orders are placed much in advance.
Meanwhile, Air Mauritius is confident of its choice of new fleet in the form of the widebody A350.
The A350-900 is expected to offer enhanced passenger experience and comfort, operating cost efficiency and technological innovation.
The re-fleeting exercise will take place in a phased manner. The first two A350-900 planes will be delivered in 2017 through operating leases from AerCap Holdings and the remaining four will be purchased from Airbus, with two aircraft to be delivered in 2019 and the remaining two in 2020.
The four planes that the national carrier wants to order would come to a consolidated value of nearly USD 1.2 billion (around MUR 36.5 billion), at catalogue prices. However, in aircraft orders, discounts in the range of double-digit percentages are common.
Air Mauritius has also reserved its right to exercise an option to place additional orders of up to three A350 between 2023 and 2025 on the same terms and conditions that led to the selection of the first four aircraft with Airbus.
“This landmark decision follows a rigorous and transparent evaluation and selection process. These new acquisitions will allow the airline to offer a very attractive product with state of the art seats and in-flight entertainment facilities to meet the expectations of our passengers,” commented Dass Thomas, Chairman of Air Mauritius.
For his part, Andre Viljoen, CEO said, “These fuel efficient A350-900s are key to modernizing our fleet and will significantly reduce operational costs. This aircraft is the game changer we were looking for to improve our products and competitiveness. The A350-900 will enable our customers to enjoy significantly improved comfort levels.”
“We are honoured that Air Mauritius, a long-standing customer for 20 years, is ordering new generation Airbus aircraft,” said John Leahy.
“The fleet commonality unique to Airbus will maximize operational efficiency for Air Mauritius and its passengers will benefit from unmatched service levels,” he added.
This historical decision follows a series of recent achievements by Air Mauritius, among which a return to profitability in 2013-2014 and being voted the leading airline in the Indian Ocean at the World Travel Awards for nine consecutive years, are the highlights.
Headquartered in Toulouse, France, Airbus is owned by the Airbus Group, a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services.